Elizabeth Warren’s Persistence

I don’t know much about Jeff Sessions’ track record, so my point here is not to defend him or criticize him. Instead, I argue that a 30-year-old letter regarding Jeff Sessions—even one written by Coretta Scott King—is not relevant on its own. It’s argumentative. It’s the opinion of one person (albeit an important person) from a long time ago. For sure, it should be considered alongside other aspects of Mr. Sessions’ track record, but Elizabeth Warren standing up there and reading the whole letter like it’s a decree from god is a waste of everyone’s time. (Set aside the debate on whether or not Mr. McConnell was right in silencing her—my opinion would be the same if she was allowed to finish reading the whole letter).

Furthermore, people change. People sometimes learn the error of their ways. (I don’t know if Mr. Sessions has, or not.) What’s his recent track record? If she thinks he’s still racist, show us recent evidence. Build a case, of which the letter is just one of many pieces of supporting evidence. How did she conclude that he cannot do a fair job as attorney general today?

For better or worse, Mr. Sessions was the nominee. If Ms. Warren didn’t want him to be attorney general, a better approach would have been to try to persuade people who disagreed with her. Instead, she spoke only to people who already agreed with her. It was pointless. But I think Ms. Warren got out of it exactly what she wanted: I think she wanted a forum to convey her righteous indignation. She wanted to show her supposed moral superiority by using someone almost universally accepted as a person of high character in attacking Mr. Sessions’ character. It didn’t work.

Meanwhile, people on Ms. Warren’s side are high-fiving themselves for what amounts to her doing a terrible job of persuading Republican senators to change their votes. While I understand the significance of Coretta Scott King’s opinion, it’s simply not damning enough (on its own) to be persuasive 30+ years later.